Site identification and selection for the Kentucky Mesonet

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
James Kyle Thompson, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY; and S. A. Foster and R. Mahmood

Section: 15th Symposium on Meteorological Observation and Instrumentation

Title: Site identification and selection for the Kentucky Mesonet

Authors: Thompson, James K.

Foster, Stuart A.

Mahmood, Rezaul

Identification and selection of high-quality observing sites is fundamental to the integrity of an environmental monitoring system. Whether data are used for operational needs or research purposes, the value of observed data is a function of the modality {degree to which observing sites are representative} of the surrounding terrain, land use, and land cover. Site selection for a mesonet can be particularly challenging because the density of the network may be high enough to limit the number of potentially available sites, yet low enough that a given observing site may not be representative of nearby landscapes for which it is a nearest neighbor. An area that is predominantly flat and unobstructed offers the greatest flexibility when selecting sites at which to sample the area's climate. On the other hand, in regions of greater relief, the distribution of terrain, land use, and land cover may be multimodal, so that the identifying representative sites may become quite difficult. Under such circumstances, site identification and selection may be approached, not based on a site-by-site approach, but by joint location of pairs or triplets of sites.

The Kentucky Mesonet has been faced with extreme challenges of identifying and securing observing sites in a wide variety of settings, ranging from regions of relatively flat, uniform pasture and cropland, primarily in western and central Kentucky, to the chaotic landscapes of the dissected Cumberland Plateau at the western extent of the Cumberland Mountains in southeastern Kentucky. This presentation outlines the site identification and selection strategy employed in building the Kentucky Mesonet. Examples are provided to illustrate challenges that have been faced and solutions and have been implemented.